The Count of Monte Cristo

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The Friars and the Filipinos
by José Rizal

I

It had been for centuries that God the Father, relegated to oblivion by the inhabitants of the earth, abandoned the affairs of the world. He left them to the control of saints and other idols in vogue that the people adored in their madness. He devoted his attention to other suns and planets bigger and more beautiful than ours, where a pure and simple cult was offered to the Eternal Creator. Whenever his omnipotent glance met our little globe, which wrapped in clouds rotated in infinite space, he turned it away with repugnance not unlike what a father does when he sees an ungrateful and wicked son. The earth, thus forsaken to the idols, was enveloped in Misery and suffering. Its face was wrapped like reptiles trapped in their lairs. The sobs of the unfortunate and the victims filled the air, perforated the clouds, and soared until they reached the throne of the Almighty.

The Eternal Father finally had pity on them, and one day, putting his eyeglasses on, he said to himself:

“Let us see and find out what is happening to those Asses of men in their orange-colored sphere!”

God looked earthward, and fate decreed that his gaze should fall precisely upon a handful of islands, many of which were mountainous, surrounded by tempestuous seas and shaken by earthquakes as though they were quivering. God saw men of different races and colors of whom though some were wearing skirts and others pants, yet had their head shaven on the crown, leaving a circle of hair around it. On the other hand, others had it reversed: shaved all around except in the middle where a lock of hair grew long like that of a woman. Occasionally, a few were capering and uttering many stupidities, imputing them to him, the Eternal Father, while others capered more and uttered more stupidities believing that they would please him. The Eternal Father thought he was suffering from hallucination so he adjusted better his eyeglasses and looked more intensely.

And he saw that a few who, though living without doing anything, yet were oppressing and enslaving the others, blinding them, insulted and mocked them. But what surprised the Eternal Father was to see all of them discontented; in fact, the oppressors were even more discontented than the oppressed.

“Hah! Strange!” he murmured, shaking his head in disgust and stroking his beard; “it seems that things go wrong in those islands. . . Hey, you! Come here!” he added in a loud voice, calling the Archangel Gabriel who was passing nearby.

Gabriel came up to him.

“Do you know the name of those green islands below dotted with queer inhabitants and whose habits are even queerer?”

Gabriel looked down.

“I certainly do,” he answered, “because I once had there a temple and a square.”

“You, little Gabriel, you had there a temple and a square!” exclaimed the amazed Eternal Father. “Do you permit yourself such luxuries?”

“Bah! They have already been taken away from me, and have been given to a friar. There everything finds its way into the hands of friars!”

“Do you say friars? What insect is that?”

“Well, . . . a friar, a friar is something difficult to explain,” answered Gabriel perplexed. “A friar – there is the quid. [Latin: “What?” -- rly] I myself do not understand it!”

“And what is the name of those small islands?” asked God, looking at the earth very intently.

“Of course, they are the Philippine Islands."

“Aha! So those are the famous Philippines, the country from which come so many . . . Well, I thought . . . but tell me, how is it that they have a name which sounds like Spanish when from what hear its people do not speak that language?"

“That is another quid, Eternal Father,” answered Gabriel who, while he was in the Philippines had become fond of the word. “The inhabitants of those islands are subjects of the Spaniards."

“Subjects, Gabriel, subjects, is that what you say? I have created men free, men are...
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